UnitedHealthcare and United Health Foundation Provide $1.75 Million to Temple University to Improve Children`s Dental Care

Tue Feb 19, 2013 8:30am EST

* Reuters is not responsible for the content in this press release.

http://pdf.reuters.com/htmlnews/8knews.asp?i=43059c3bf0e37541&u=urn:newsml:reuters.com:20130219:nBw195476a

* UnitedHealthcare donates $750,000 and United Health Foundation provides $1
million to Temple University to launch "Project ENGAGE"
* Program will create an oral health registry to identify and support children
at risk for developing tooth decay; provide oral health detection training for
primary care physicians
* Initiative expected to improve health outcomes for thousands of Medicaid
beneficiaries in Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA--(Business Wire)--
Temple University`s Kornberg School of Dentistry, with support from
UnitedHealthcare and United Health Foundation, today launched Project ENGAGE, an
initiative designed to improve children`s oral health and address one of the
greatest unmet health needs for young people in Pennsylvania and nationwide. 

Project ENGAGE will work with Philadelphia children under 6 and their families
who are enrolled in the state`s Medicaid plan, including the UnitedHealthcare
Community Plan of Pennsylvania. The goal is to expand the initiative to other
parts of the state and country. 

The new program will improve children`s oral health by creating an oral health
registry that will use dental claims information and operating and emergency
department histories to identify children most at risk of developing any health
issues as a result of tooth decay. Community health workers will provide these
children and their families, including siblings and pregnant women, with
information, counseling and assistance in scheduling dental appointments. Public
health dental hygienists will also be available to provide in-home care and
additional treatments, such as fluoride varnishes and sealants. 

"Temple University is excited to work with UnitedHealthcare and United Health
Foundation to address the challenges and issues related to the oral health care
of children in our state," said Amid Ismail, dean of the Kornberg School of
Dentistry. "By creating this oral health registry and the associated
intervention programs, we are creating an innovative model that will improve the
health and well-being of thousands of children and their families." 

Tooth decay is an infectious disease that ranks as the most common chronic
condition during childhood; it is five times more prevalent in children than
asthma, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. If left
untreated, tooth decay can cause infections and illness, and affect the
development of permanent teeth. 

Currently, fewer than 30 percent of the children under 6 living in the five zip
codes (19121, 19122, 19132, 19133 and 19140) surrounding the Kornberg School of
Dentistry`s North Philadelphia campus have access to proper oral health care,
often due to lack of awareness of the importance of oral health, limited
transportation and access to qualified dental care providers. One of the
program`s goals is to increase that access and reach at least 60 percent of the
children. 

Project ENGAGE is being funded with a $1 million grant from United Health
Foundation and another $750,000 from UnitedHealthcare. Temple University will
work together to create the registry and coordinate the interventions to
families, with assistance from UnitedHealthcare. 

"The neighborhoods served by Project ENGAGE have the highest cost-of-care for
children`s dental care in Pennsylvania, in part because the parents of these
children tend to seek dental care only when it`s an emergency and then seek that
care at a hospital, which can be expensive," Ismail said. "We need to shift the
dental care from when the children have a problem to before the problem starts."


The program will also provide training for primary care physicians to encourage
preventive screenings and to apply dental varnish, while also giving general
dentists who do not currently provide dental care for very young children the
support and information needed to care for children. Studies show that children
should begin seeing a dentist before their first birthday. In many cases, dental
referrals for young children come through primary care physicians, helping to
catch diseases early and perhaps avoid a lifetime of dental disease and other
health issues. 

"By combining Temple University`s clinical expertise with UnitedHealthcare`s
extensive claims information, we will promote oral health, expand access to care
and reduce the prevalence of dental disease," said Michael Weitzner, DMD, MS,
vice president, UnitedHealthcare Dental. "We have the unique opportunity to
enhance the health delivery system and improve health outcomes for thousands of
children in Pennsylvania." 

Project ENGAGE builds on the success of other oral health initiatives created by
UnitedHealthcare for Medicaid plans. In New York, New Jersey and Mississippi,
UnitedHealthcare organizes the Early Childhood Caries program, which encourages
primary care physicians to perform oral health screenings on very young
children. The program has helped enhance preventive care, with nearly 90 percent
of children that were referred to a general dentist after a physician screening
receiving preventive services such as a cleaning or fluoride treatment. 

"United Health Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to support Project
ENGAGE, which will serve as an important resource for improving the oral health
of children and families," said Kate Rubin, president of United Health
Foundation. 

About UnitedHealthcare
UnitedHealthcare is dedicated to helping people nationwide live healthier lives
by simplifying the health care experience, meeting consumer health and wellness
needs, and sustaining trusted relationships with care providers. The company
offers the full spectrum of health benefit programs for individuals, employers
and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, and contracts directly with 780,000
physicians and care professionals and 5,900 hospitals and other care facilities
nationwide. UnitedHealthcare serves more than 40 million people and is one of
the businesses of UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH), a diversified Fortune 50
health and well-being company. 

About United Health Foundation
Guided by a passion to help people live healthier lives, United Health
Foundation provides helpful information to support decisions that lead to better
health outcomes and healthier communities. The Foundation also supports
activities that expand access to quality health care services for those in
challenging circumstances and partners with others to improve the well-being of
communities. After its establishment by UnitedHealth Group [NYSE: UNH] in 1999
as a not-for-profit, private foundation, the Foundation has committed more than
$200 million to improve health and health care. For additional information,
please visit www.unitedhealthfoundation.org. 

Click here to subscribe to Mobile Alerts for UnitedHealth Group.

Temple University
Preston Moretz, 215-204-4380
pmoretz@temple.com
or
UnitedHealthcare
Mary McElrath-Jones, 914-552-5713
mary_r_mcelrath-jones@uhc.com

Copyright Business Wire 2013